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Super-fast Update

December 4th, 2019 at 04:15 am

No time until the semester ends for a real update, but here's my quickie.

I spend more time worrying about work and DD's college financing than anything else. Kind of tired of both.

My university is undergoing a title and compensation update that is making everyone angry.

I CANNOT wait for the semester to end. I want to cook, read, plan for next term, and not get up at 5:45 for a few days. And start an intense hunt for scholarship cash for DD.

A long-time friend is counting down the days to early retirement at the end of the month. That's got me thinking even more about how to balance retirement planning, UK goals, college financing, and current wants, needs, indulgences.

My big goal is now over $6000. Small potatoes to some, but it makes me feel a bit better.

See y'all in two + weeks.

EFC=UGH

November 18th, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Yes, we finished the FAFSA, the American college apps, and got what I can only describe as a staggering Expected family Contribution number. It was almost equivalent to my salary.


I have little other news as it will take me a while to wrap my head around that number. Here's an interesting take from the NYT on EFCs: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/your-money/fafsa-financial-aid-student-loans.html

Life, cold weather, and November continue.

Updating Slowly

October 8th, 2019 at 01:42 am

Glad SA is back, and I guess I'll update things slowly as I get more time.

The last couple of weeks have been devoted to DD's college stuff. She's chosen five US schools and five UK schools to apply to. And we've gone over the costs a bit. It's so hard to know until the financial aid offers come through, and I'll need to finish her FAFSA soon. I wouldn't mind seeing her go to a large public university in the Midwest, but she has lots of ideas. The bottom line on all of this is some belt tightening--especially since DH's ancient clunker has almost breathed its last. He only drives it to the Park and Ride, but it didn't pass emissions and the garage says its not worth fixing. So on to a slightly newer clunker. I dearly wish we could get away with just one car, but I can't seem to make it work.

Lots to do and plan for.

Catching Up

March 9th, 2019 at 03:07 pm

The last month has sort of been a whirlwind, and it's good to be back reading everyone's blogs on SA. It's been extremely busy at work as we're trying very hard to hire for two new faculty positions. We have eight candidates chose; the seventh came on Thursday to speak, and the eighth arrives Monday. All of this has meant lunches, lectures, campus tours on top of the usual mayhem of the semester. And this is my first semester writing employee annual evaluations. And we've hosted professional development sessions. And my part-time class starts Monday.

And that's just my work. Our DD is enjoying her new part-time job with all the thrills that go with a paycheck and bank account. She is tired. She's also been very busy with theatre as they have two more performances of Mamma Mia. There have been a couple of weeks of craziness as she tried to balance that with school work, 6am meetings of the French Honor Society, bake sales, you name it. We are both longing for spring break.

DH is enjoying his class and his contract has been renewed for another three months. Although we odn't like the uncertainty of contract work, he is making more money than he ever has. That's been a good thing. And he still has free lunch and bus fare there from his student bus card.

We are pondering a trip to France for DD. Her French teacher is from Lyon, and the advanced French students are offered the opportunity to travel to a Francophone country every two years. The cost is, well, yuck. It would be Summer 2020 as she graduates. They've offered us ways to reduce the cost including hosting a French student for a few weeks this summer and deciding early. These would save about $350--about 10% of the cost of the trip. We will sit down and talk this through in the next two weeks as she'll have to write the application letter in French which might take a bit.

She is also looking at more colleges, including British universities. So much to think about.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about France too. Two months before I take off with my BFF.

New Month

February 2nd, 2019 at 02:49 am

Goodbye, January. The ghost of you will reappear in our heating bills, but it's nice to close the door on that cold, hard month. And it's nice to get paid. I also hope we can move on from all of our car bills, dental bills, etc.

In fun news, my DD opened a bank account today. She started her after school jojb orientation. Between that, the theatre, and all her schoolwork, she is going to be very busy.

I haven't spent a dime in days, but did contribute today to a friend's nephew's gofundme page. He's 27, has two children, and has just been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

It's time to buckle down for a serious pantry/freezer cleanout. I'd like to spend as little as possible this month--just milk and fresh fruit and veg. That's all for tonight.

$2 Coffee and Then the Darn Dentist

January 16th, 2019 at 02:21 am

I led a brainstorming session with colleagues today, spending only$2 on coffee. But then there was the follow-up dental appointment where the hygienist had me somehow convinced that I needed additional lab work to help determine the cause of my periodontal disease. To the tune of $150. I'm glad I decided on the fancy/expensive dental insurance this year. I have a feeling it's going to be an expensive year for my mouth (again).

A thrifty dinner of cauliflower cheese ensued. DD had a phone interview for a job this afternoon. She's eager for her first real job at the advanced age of 16. I hope it works out.

Different Sorts of Days

December 8th, 2018 at 09:54 pm

I had to laugh at an encounter with a student group yesterday. I ran into them in our library coffeeshop, and they were surprised to see me, asking if I didn't have Fridays off. It's a week until the end of the semester--nobody has a day off, even on weekends.

But yesterday was filled with staff meetings, class scheduling issues, and then a wonderful few hours evaluating freshman research projects. We've been encouraging veteran instructors to help their students develop research projects and mentor them. I looked at projects from history, English, and psychology which were all so well done and interesting. And there was food! I cannot tell you how welcome a huge plate of vegetables and a lovely urn of coffee is in the middle of a day like that.

Two more student meetings followed--then off to the History Department to see my husband receive his award--where there was MORE FOOD. I think I should have been a historian--what lovely people, gracious and charming.

And then home to grade more projects of varying quality. So these late semester days are different, but bless the folks who order in food to keep us going.

Our DD did her first stab at the college entrance exams this morning. No news for weeks, but she can breathe a sigh of relief that it's over for a bit. And she's been made the head of costumes for their upcoming production of Mamma Mia.


Back to grading and how to improve this assignment next time.

Ugh, Busy

October 19th, 2018 at 02:05 am

Not much time to write lately,and I miss you all. School is very busy, many meetings, some challenging students, and the usual pile of grading and prep.

DD is also busy with school, theater, and friends. I'm so glad we bought the Harry Potter Sunday movie package together. We just saw the 6th one on Sunday, and it's a nice time for us to sit down together, chat on the way, and just plain relax. It was parent/teacher conferences tonight, and they all love her. She's doing very well. She's got three AP classes, two languages, and a full slate of theater assignments. Honestly, her life exhausts me.

We drove to her school together this morning at 6:45 as we baked two coffee cakes for the French Honor Bake sale and she couldn't balance it all. I headed to school right after that. That's the kind of schedule we've been handling lately.

I have a weekend filled with grading and prep, but hope to get outside some. I need to tackle garden clean up. DH is hanging in there with the new job, but they've only paid him for a week so far. His ear checkup is tomorrow, so hopefully he can go back to the gym and start more normal activities.

Two months to our London trip!

Lots to Report

September 9th, 2018 at 09:21 pm

Hmm--It's been a week or so since last I blogged, and what a busy week it's been. DH had more interviews, but has taken the contract at his former employer that he left about 20 months ago. It's a great hourly rate, and honestly, he really likes it there. We think he starts on Wednesday after all the checks. Glad we got his drug test in before his surgery.

So yes, he's also had ear surgery. Last Thursday we drove to a hospital about an hour west of us at (ugh) 4:30 a.m. for his stapedectomy. He's never had any surgeries or much medical, and he was a nervous wreck. But all went well, and I think he was a bit sobered by folks getting pacemakers, stents, and much more serious things. We'll know in a few weeks how successful it's been restoring his hearing. Right now his ear is full of packing which will be removed on Friday

School started for DD; all's well there. School also started for me, and while my classes seem fine, my new administrative function is headache inducing. There are plenty of my colleagues who would rather not speak to one another, so they've decided I'm their intermediary. Because I'm in charge of class scheduling, I've had everything from pleas, to demands, to outright anger about next semester's schedule. All of a sudden I can see who the easy folks are, and who is decidedly difficult. It's going to be an interesting time.

This afternoon DD and I bought a Harry Potter package at the local theater. We got tickets for 9 shows--all the Potter movies and Fantastic Beasts for $27. We go the next eight Sundays. I really enjoyed seeing HP1 on the big screen. So much grander than DVDs at home.
It's fun for us to hang out too--if there's a week I can't go, she can always take a friend.

I've been busily using our garden and CSA veggies. Friday night it was Southern Tomato Pie, followed by Croatian Chicken last night, and tonight veggie curry.
Time to ramp up a bit of frugality. We've been too lax lately.

AN UFM Fail but a Birthday Success

July 11th, 2018 at 03:30 pm

My UFM has gone off the rails. I have plenty of excuses, the major one being my daughter's 16th birthday yesterday. I guffawed through articles about what to do for a 16th birthday that included new cars, trips abroad, and a cake made of rolled up dollar bills.
But DD was hesitant about her birthday plans, and decided at the last minute what she'd really like is a whole day with her BFF, especially since the BFF recently moved back near us. I was just the driver and offerer of options. They decided on an hour or so at Target where they bought nothing and looked at everything, followed by a trip to the amazing ethnic grocery next store where I bought olive oil, and they spent 35 minutes looking at imported squid, Polish candy, Mexican peppers, Turkish grape leaves, and just about everything else you can think of. I remember very well loving trips like that with my friends when I was that age. On to the Humane Society where I fell in love with a dog and they fell in love with a cat. Lots of petting but no adopting. We then had lunch in Milwaukee's funky third ward followed by more odd shopping. They spent, I kid you not, 60 minutes looking at succulents. Then we all had pedicures, paddled boats on the lake, followed by dinner at PF Changs and more d**m shopping for them.

I kept up my cheerful demeanor, but by the end of the evening, I let them shop and goof around while I sat in a comfy chair at Barnes and Noble. DD loved the day; it'll take me days to recover. And today won't be frugal either as I'm meeting DH for lunch to cheer on English football. Frugality will resume, but it's likely to be next week. Hey, she's only 16 once.

The UFM Begins and a Fun June Ends

July 2nd, 2018 at 04:55 pm

We spent the weekend in Madison so DH and I could work on his history project and DD could tour UW Madison. Great hotel with some nice dinners out, but it was sweltering which put a damper on some plans. We met up with a former student, swam in the hotel pool, and enjoyed their lovely free breakfasts as well as the huge Farmers' Market. As an employee of UW Madison poorer sister campus, I was blown away by their fabulous facilities and beautiful setting. I go there at least once a year, but am always impressed--as was DD. Their offerings tick a lot of her "want" boxes.

We came home to a very warm day, but managed to unpack and get some laundry in before our power blew out with a strong rainstorm about 4. No electricity until midnight, but everything appears to have survived in the freezer and fridge.


Today's plans include a trip to the gymn, DD's French lessons, some meal prep for the week, and perhaps dinner with friends. Thankfully I have a gift card just waiting to be redeemed for dinner. My dear friend is headed back to AZ on the 5th, and I'm eager to see her again before she goes.

Finishing Up the School Year

June 8th, 2018 at 02:23 am

Our DD finishes up her sophomore year tomorrow. Not sure where those last two years went, but she's such a great kid. She and I spent part of the afternoon looking at gyms. We're thinking of a no-contract easy plan at a gym close to our house for the summer. She's been applying for jobs, but hasn't heard from her top pick yet, and she wants to keep busy. I'm sure she can find some pick-up work from a couple places, and she's volunteering at the local Alliance Francaise and library.

The university still seems to have a chunk of me for the summer. I had another grant meeting this morning, and will start planning for the fall pretty soon. I have lots of new ideas. Yesterday we got the news of our student writing competition, and one of my students took second place, so I'm delighted for her. Too bad it meant another long meeting with my least favorite colleague, but I got through it without opening my big mouth.

I got some CVS bargains on toothpaste and a few other things, but spent no other money today. And I'm meeting another dissertation editing client tomorrow. I really enjoy dissertation editing, and think i'll start on hers over the weekend. In another bits of cash, I filed for flex money on my new glasses, and I'm subbing for a colleague for $200 on Monday night. I've been a bit antsy since coming back from California, but now the summer looks better. Lots to do but I'm eager to jump in.

Quiet Monday

January 30th, 2018 at 03:37 am

It was a quiet day today which was particularly welcome since our daughter woke up at 1 am sick to her stomach. I didn't sleep much after that trying to listening to her, but managed to struggle up and out for my 8am class. Today's spending was just coffee, and then I headed home to take the next shift with the ill one and send my husband off to work. She appears to have revived as the day went on, so we watched Netflix, I graded papers, and we had simple lunches and dinners mostly from the pantry and from leftovers.

Not much other news--school has started in earnest, so plenty to do there.

I'm planning an early night to try to recoup some sleep. Lots on tomorrow's schedule.